“Green” condo respects the environment and saves money

Leitura de 9min

Sustainability-related activities promoted by JLL have improved the day-to-day operations and even the financial performance of City Tower, in Rio de Janeiro.

JLL supports innovation in various areas and is a leader in pioneer initiatives related to what is commonly known as sustainability, whose three pillars are the environment, economics and society. Christiane Durante, infrastructure manager at JLL in Rio de Janeiro, is leading a project at the City Tower office block in downtown Rio that aims to develop the concept of a “green” condominium, with sustainable actions that are designed to promote respect for the environment.

The project involves the control of solid waste, with proper collection of materials for recycling; the reduction of water and power consumption; the reduction of carbon emissions, and a series of other benefits. Together, these add up to a return on investment of some R$1.8 million.

Electricity consumption in the condominium gives an idea of the progress, falling by around 14% between 2009 and 2012. Total savings from the garbage operation alone reached R$2,600 per month. What’s more, the waste that formerly went to the dump was instead sent for recycling, providing raw material for new plastic, paper, card and metal items.

In addition to these major initiatives, other smaller operations were implemented that have generated significant gains, in terms of both financial return for the development and quality for society as a whole. One was the substitution of cellulose-based paper for another made from sugar-cane bagasse, so generating a 5% reduction in expenditure on this item. Another was the income achieved through the sale of recyclable material, which went to pay for disposal of Class 1 waste items and represented a reduction of 0.08% on the monthly cost of the condominium.

Discussion is increasing about environmental questions, and over the years the subject has become more and more important for the population in general; it is no longer just a matter of political or scientific debate. Companies and manufacturers have started to worry about their public image – about how they’re perceived by the consumers – and are thus demanding more and more of their suppliers, insisting on attention to environmental laws and standards.” Durante said, explaining what motivated the project.

JLL, and in particular the Property Management area, have developed various activities involving the theme of environmental sustainability in the properties that it manages. “We initiated various sustainable actions in 2009 within the concept of green management, and these gradually developed so that today we are at the point where we have implemented the first major project,” Durante said.

Occupied by major companies in the petroleum and banking sectors, the City Tower Condominium identified various actions that could make it sustainable. The first step was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The next was to identify requirements and define actions and projects involving building operations and services, for example the correct management of waste, energy efficiency and the rational use of natural resources, among others. This group of actions, Durante explained, contributed to the building’s sustainability while requiring low financial investment by occupiers.

The main goal of the initiative was to add economic value to the building by implementing power-saving activities and others to reduce the consumption of natural resources. A secondary aim was to reduce the environmental impact of activities involved in operating and maintaining the commercial property. The sustainable activities of the City Tower Condominium encompass various areas such as administration, cleaning, operations and maintenance, while also involving occupants and the building owner.

“Initially the owner approved the investment to install oxicatalyzer filters in the generator exhausts to control the black smoke that was emitted when they were in use. There were also investments to make and install gratings in the garbage deposit to enable separation of waste material,” Durante said. Once this area was organized, we decided we needed to bring in a company specialized in the process of implementing waste management, which had become one of the major challenges.

We did some market research to find waste management companies, which was a problem because it’s a fairly new service. We found some companies that operate in the industrial area, but with very high costs and not too interested in small generators.” After some wider research, the condominium managed to hire a company that offered the best cost/benefit relationship. However, the service did not live up to expectations and the contract was rescinded after a couple of months.

Additional market research identified another company, this time with the idea of developing a specific project to meet the requirements of a group of buildings, where the volume of waste produced was considered small by normal standards. The partnership was finalized and the company has been developing the project together with JLL in various buildings in Rio de Janeiro.

After this company was hired, various studies were undertaken regarding the need to acquire waste collection bins to ensure that garbage is separated right from the start. “This involved the substitution or improvement of more than 4,000 waste collection bins in the private areas,” Durante said. “We launched campaigns and training that involved all of the building users, plus the employees and managers responsible for waste removal operations.”

The Waste Management Plan was drawn up and presented to all building occupants as a way to educate them about the storage and treatment of each type of waste, prior to its final disposal.

Best and sustainable practices

Easily-applicable sustainable practices were identified during the development of the waste management project. Market research was carried out to select products and equipment that do not harm the environment, and the following initiatives were introduced:

Recyclables – The condominium adopted Big Bags – large reusable bags for packing recyclables prior to final disposal.

Cigarette disposal units and drums – These provide smokers with a clean option for disposing of cigarette ends. An annual average of 4.7 kilos – the equivalent of 4,500 cigarette ends – is sent for recycling by companies that extract the cellulose for reuse in new products.

Containment pallets – These were acquired to prevent chemicals released by spills or leaky packaging from reaching the sewer system.

Fluorescent lamps – Fluorescent lamp collector bins were installed in the condominium, made from recycled toothpaste tubes. Some occupier companies also joined this campaign and acquired the same bins. Lamps from the condominium and the occupants are collected and then sent for low-cost disposal with the bill split proportionally among the users of the system. On average, 998 fluorescent lamps are decontaminated annually.

Vegetable oil – The condominium has a campaign to collect old cooking oil, inviting building users to bring in their residual vegetable oil from home. This is collected by a recycling company and exchanged for floor cloths.

Lubricating oil – Waste lubricating oil is sent for re-refining at zero cost.

Batteries – The condominium has installed a battery collector. Disposal is twice-yearly, handled by a licensed company.

Air filters – Condominium filters are disposed of properly by a licensed company.

Styrofoam – Occupants frequently change their office layouts and replace equipment. This generates on average two dumpsters of Styrofoam that are disposed of properly, with the cost divided among the occupants generating the waste.

Bacterial air filters – The reverse logistics of the air filter packaging provides for the return of an average of 1,200 units per year to the maker.

Infectious waste – This type of waste is generated by some occupants, either periodically or in one-off campaigns. The condominium supports these companies when they register with the state environmental agency (INEA) and undertake proper disposal of this waste, to avoid contamination. The waste is stored in a restricted location until disposal.

A4 paper from sugarcane bagasse – Substitution of wood-based paper for other, cheaper, paper made from sugarcane bagasse. Building users were encouraged to do the same.

Microfiber cleaning cloths – Traditional stitched cloth was replaced by microfiber cloth for maintenance cleaning operations, normally involving oil residues, with a significant reduction in the ensuing volume of Class 1 waste.

Mugs – Disposable cups used by condominium service providers were replaced by mugs, so reducing waste generation.

Green Cleaning – Traditional cleaning products were replaced with ones carrying the Green Seal.

Automatic dilution equipment – This was installed to avoid possible error in manual dilution.

3M carpeting – This carpeting retains dust from shoes, so reducing dirt being carried into the rest of the building. It was purchased in 3-meter squares.

Earth Hour – Campaigns with building users encourage participation in the worldwide movement to demonstrate concern about global warming.

Carpooling – The condominium encouraged building users to take part in a project run by the Caronetas site whereby residential ZIP codes are used to identify people working in the same company who may be willing and able to carpool, a practice that contributes to reducing carbon monoxide emission.

Automation of mail control system – Replacement of manual mail controls with a computerized system, so reducing paper usage and contributing to digital inclusion.

Water treatment in a/c towers – Substitution of the company responsible for water treatment in the a/c towers. Installation of central water quality control unit for the cooling towers with automatic additive metering, water saving “smart purge”, drainage controlled by conductivity meter, full-time pH reading and automatic activation of dosage pumps.

Cleaning audit – Conducted in private and public areas at no additional cost; reports were presented to building users with suggestions for improving cleaning of indoor environments.

Garbage audit – An audit was carried out of all the building’s garbage cans, to determine how many users were not collaborating with selective garbage collection on each floor.

Training – Maintenance, cleaning and other operations crews serving the condominium and occupants were instructed about waste management, energy efficiency, the rational use of water and the use of suitable cleaning products.

Policies – Procedures were drawn up for purchasing, waste management, consumer equipment, cleaning, tobacco smoke and energy efficiency.

Corporate TV and message boards – TV screens were installed in the reception to show campaigns and to give news about sustainability activities and investments in the building.

Environmental manager – A professional was hired to assist in training, campaigns and documentation control.